According to the U.S. Department of Energy, home heating makes up approximately 48 percent of the average utility bill. Improving your heating system's energy efficiency is one of the best ways to reduce your monthly bill. Here are three easy ways you can make your heating system more efficient.
Seal Air Leaks to the Outside
Any conditioned air that escapes outside is money wasted. Sealing drafts around windows, doors, pipes, and electrical installations will keep more warm air in and reduce the amount of unconditioned air that leaks into your home. Both of these factors will improve energy efficiency by reducing the amount of time you have to run your heating system to get your home to a comfortable temperature.
While drafts around windows and doors are easy to locate and seal, you should also take the time to find less-obvious air leaks around your home. A depressurization test is a good way to locate hard-to-find leaks. Turn off your HVAC system, close all windows, doors, and chimney flues, and turn on all exhaust fans in your home.
Now that your home is depressurized, light an incense stick or a cigarette lighter and hold it next to exterior corners, plumbing and electrical penetrations, and baseboards. If the lighter's flame wavers or the smoke from the incense stick is sucked outside, you have located a draft that needs to be sealed.
Seal and Patch Ductwork
Even if your home is properly sealed to prevent air from escaping outside, leaky ductwork will dump conditioned air into undesirable places in your home. To locate leaks in your ductwork, you can visually inspect the ducts in your attic and basement for gaps between seams and joints. You can also use the lighter or incense method to locate smaller gaps while your furnace is running.
It may surprise you to learn that duct tape is not the best material for sealing leaks in ductwork. For a permanent bond, the best solution is to use mastic sealer paste supported by fiberglass tape. Simply use a flat paintbrush to spread the mastic over leaks and cover it with fiberglass tape after it has dried.
Improve Your Heating Habits
There is a lot you can do to improve the efficiency of your heating system without altering the system in any way. One of the most important heating habits that every homeowner should adopt is changing the furnace filter once a month.
A dirty furnace filter forces your system to work harder to move the same amount of air through your ducts. Dirty filters can also shorten the lifespan of your system by allowing dust particles to coat the mechanical components inside your furnace.
Another bad heating habit that almost every homeowner has done at least once is turning the thermostat up too high in an attempt to heat the room faster. Your furnace will produce heat at the same speed no matter how high you turn the thermostat and will continue to heat your home until the specified temperature is reached. Setting the thermostat too high causes the furnace to run longer than it's needed and leads to more frequent starting and stopping of the system.
The best way to avoid inefficiency caused by improper thermostat settings is to install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats start and stop your heating installation system automatically throughout the day according to your settings, allowing you to save even more energy by turning your furnace off while you are at work or asleep at night.
There are many ways you can improve your heating system's efficiency without replacing your furnace. Use these tips so you can start enjoying a lower energy bill as soon as possible.